Creatives are rewarded for being specialized: a wedding photographer makes more money than a just a plain photographer. So why aren't the jack-of-all-trades rewarded? In this 99U talk, photographer Shantanu Starick shares how removing money out of the creative process led to a wider array of jobs and a much more fulfilling freelance career.
In this wide-ranging question and answer session, bestselling author Seth Godin advocates us to be bold. Whether it’s a toxic work culture or stagnation in your craft, Godin urges us all to recapture the child-like delight in taking a risk.
“You may know how to use fancy design tools, but if there isn’t that leap that leads to connection, it doesn’t matter….you’re not making art,” says Godin. “We didn’t build stuff because we need more beautifully laid out menus. We did it because people want to be touched, noticed, and connected.”
Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years, sharing them orally even before the invention of writing. In one way or another, much of people’s lives are spent telling stories—often about other people. In her paper “Gossip in Evolutionary Perspective,” evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar found stories’ direct relevance to humans: Social topics—especially gossip—account for 65 percent of all human conversations in public places.
Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness. Humans are inclined to see narratives where there are none because it can afford meaning to our lives—a form of existential problem-solving. In a 1944 study conducted by Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel at Smith College, 34 college students were shown a short film in which two triangles and a circle moved across the screen and a rectangle remained stationary on one side of the screen. When asked what they saw, 33 of the 34 students anthropomorphized the shapes and created a narrative: The circle was “worried,” the “little triangle” was an “innocent young thing,” the big triangle was “blinded by rage and frustration.” Only one student recorded that all he saw were geometric shapes on a screen.
Fear of things that might actually hurt us, like the flu or smoking, is understandable and healthy. It’s the phobia of things—snakes, sharks, the youth—that pose virtually no threat at all that’s more puzzling. (The last shark attack death in the continental U.S. was in 2012. Meanwhile, 30,000 people die in car accidents every year). Even in 2013, people thought more frequently about the possibility of a terror attack in the U.S. than they did about the prospect of their own hospitalization.
An inability to process these kinds of odds ratios is one reason why some people experience irrational, sometimes crippling, unease. In an interview with New York magazine about why Ebola is sparking mass hypochondria in the U.S., Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, chalked it up to a reasonable fear (you might get Ebola if you accidentally touch the bodily fluids of someone who has it) getting distorted by bad logic (you might get Ebola if you accidentally touch anyone, ever.)